Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 57 - This is What Happens When I Try to Take a Non-Cat Picture

Tonight I tried to take a close-up shot of the beautiful wood grain of my fruit bowl. This was supposed to be a relatively quick shot, but it turned out to be much harder to get a sharp image than I'd thought. After almost 45 minutes of fiddling with the tripod, camera settings, and bowl positioning, Elim couldn't resist getting in and it was much easier to just snap a picture of him being adorable. But, for the record, I did try to take a non-cat picture.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 56 - Feed Me!

The kitties and my liver are both happy that I'm back home. With the vacation, the breakup, the trip to Universal Studios last weekend, and this weekend out of town, I've been pretty negligent about stocking my fridge. Elim kept jumping in it tonight—perhaps he's trying to tell me something. Ironically, the kitties are extremely well-stocked on food and none of it is in the fridge.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 55 - M-O-O-N, That Spells Moon

Before getting ready to go out for Night 2 of crazy shenanigans, I took some shots of the moon. This photo should be sharper, but I was hand-holding the lens (didn't bring my tripod) and we'd been pre-partying (surprise, surprise). What I really like, though, is that you can totally see the outline of the entire moon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 54 - Suddenly Drunk Person!

This weekend was very much a drinking weekend. Heather joined Jennifer and I in the morning, and once Carlos got off work we headed up to Solvang to visit some breweries. This shot was taken toward the end of the last one we visited, so I'm pretty happy that I was even able to operate the camera. I was trying to take a photo of the beer fermentation tanks when Carlos popped his head into my shot. He came out blurry, but it's such a fun shot (and emblematic of the weekend). Full disclosure: despite the title of this post and the expression on his face, Carlos was completely sober, since he was driving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 53 - Go Grizzlies!

Since my friend was coming in to town this afternoon, I took my camera to work to get the photo out of the way before she arrived. I was really hoping that the duckies I saw yesterday (when I didn't have a camera) would be there again this morning, but, alas, no. The flowers around my work turned out to be mostly dead, but luckily I noticed the flags flapping in the breeze. I like the fact that this picture screams California (because of the palm trees and, you know, it says California on the flag). I don't really like the composition of this shot, but I didn't have much time to think about it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 52 - Cathedral in Glass

Tonight I had no idea what to take a picture of (aka, the usual state of affairs). As I was wandering around the house, my eye was caught by a crystal I bought in Barcelona laser-etched with an image of La Sagrada Familia. I thought it would be fun to take a picture of the light shining through it, which involved finding the flashlight, figuring out how to prop it up at just the right angle (thanks towel!), setting up the tripod, and sequestering the overly fascinated cats. This didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped (and I realize in retrospect that I should have had some sort of covering to mask the mottled floor), but I didn't feel like setting everything up again. I have a laser-etched rose from San Francisco that I might try this with at a later date.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 51 - You're Getting Very, Very Sleepy

Brian and I were at a loss for what to photograph today, until I suggested trying to take shots of my swinging pocket watch. Sounded easy enough, but it was super hard to get the watch (reasonably) in focus while also capturing the motion blur. Much fiddling with camera settings and cursing was had. This is the best I could do, but I kind of like it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 50 - Buddies

My parents took me to dinner tonight and although I tried to take pictures of the delicious food, none of them came out. Back at my place, I took a few shots of my dad and Elim together, and although those didn't come out well either (and Elim was only cooperative for a few minutes), I decided to fiddle with Photoshop and make an "artsy" photo. I think it still looks bad, but the content of the photo is adorable, so it's all good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 49 - Farmers' Market

Went to farmers' market this morning and decided to take some food pictures. The strawberries looked pretty pitiful, but I decided to take a shot of them and try making them look delicious in Photoshop. After adjusting the saturation, brightness, and contrast, they look pretty tasty to me. The one of he egg I did just because I thought it'd be fun.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 48 - Small Cat on a Big Beanbag

I went to Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Night yesterday with friends and by the time I got back today I was far too exhausted to try to get creative with my picture. The focus is really soft, but so is Perdita, so that somehow makes it okay, right?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 47 - Pinball in The Dark

I didn't have much time to take a picture today, but I had the idea of taking a shot of the old pinball machine at the bottom of the stairwell at my work. I sort of feel like a pinball right now, so it seemed like a good choice. Unfortunately, the pinball machine is situated in such a way that I couldn't take a straight-on shot without major, major glare (and even standing to one side, there's still glare in this shot). Also, I didn't have any coins to actually light it up, so it's a bit lame. But what can you do?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 46 - Goodbye

It doesn’t look like much, but, from an emotional perspective, this was by far the hardest picture I’ve ever taken. But one of the purposes of a 365 challenge is to document your life over the course of a year, and this picture represents a major turning point. After almost 10 years, Nick decided to break up with me last night (although the decision had been made over a week before). I don’t agree with his choice, and only time will tell if it was the correct one, but I wish him well and hope he can find whatever happiness he didn’t find with me. He moved most of his stuff out today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 45 - Bird of Paradise

I took my camera to work today, planning to get some shots on my lunch break. Luckily, however, I found this bird of paradise on the way and had my picture for the day knocked out before 8:30 a.m.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 44 - The Arlington

Today I went downtown with Brain to try some night photography. We camped out across the street from the Arlington and tried taking artsily-blurred pictures of the cars going by, but it didn't work. So I decided to just use this shot of the theater itself. I'll be the first to admit that it's pretty blah. We also took some shots at the courthouse, but I didn't like any of mine.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 43 - Mosquito Bites

I was dragging all today and didn't have the energy to put a lot of thought into my photo, so I decided to take my first self-portrait in order to illustrate the atrocity that my mosquito-ravaged legs have become. I'm actually really amused by this picture because of the juxtaposition of the disgusting underside of my leg with the quasi-sexy shirt-falling-off-the-shoulder in the background.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 42 - Oil Rig

By the time we got home, we'd been traveling in one form or another (taxis, waiting in airports, two flights, and a drive up the coast from LA) for over 25 hours and had been awake for at least 36. After squeezing the kitties, unpacking, and taking a shower, I went with Photo Guru Brian to take pictures of the oil rig that you can see from the bluffs near my house. Unfortunately, super-exhausted me forgot to check my camera's ISO, which for some reason was set ridiculously high. I didn't notice at the time, but the result was a very grainy picture. I kind of like it though because it emphasizes the gritty nature of the subject... or something. Even more unfortunately, I was literally eaten alive by mosquitoes. I think I got four bites during my three days in the tropical jungle, but in the course of about 20 minutes I got at least 25 all over my legs and feet (and even a few on my neck and face). Why do they love me so? Why???

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 41 - La Boca and Puerto Madero

Today was our last day of vacation. Since our flight didn’t leave until the evening, we had plenty of time to check out a few more places in Buenos Aires. First we went to La Boca, a poorer neighborhood full of fresh-off-the-boat immigrants that’s very well known for its brightly colored buildings. This was actually the first time I really felt like I was in a foreign country—there wee guys selling random crap on the streets, stray dogs sleeping on train tracks, broken glass on the street, and cops riding around on ATVs. The colorful buildings were really awesome though. Then we went to Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood where all the streets are named after women (which is apparently a very rare thing in Spanish-speaking cities). The second picture is of the Puente de la Mujer (Women’s Bridge). We also walked around on the Presidente Sarmiento, an Argentine naval vessel built in the late 1800s. I got in one last Argentine beer before it was off to the airport for our grueling trek home.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 40 - Fútbol

Of course the day we leave Iguazú is the day the rain stops and the sun comes out. After flying back to Buenos Aires and checking into a different hotel, we walked around the Palermo neighborhood and grabbed some food. I took a few pictures of some kids playing soccer in one of the plazas but could only get off a few shots before feeling like a total creeper. I actually really like this shot—it feels very representative of the South American culture.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 39 - Güirá Oga

It was still pouring when we woke up this morning, but we suited up and went in search of Güirá Oga, a wildlife reserve/rehabilitation center I’d read about on TripAdvisor. It’s a tiny place that rehabilitates, breeds, and in some cases serves as the long-term home for a number of animals that are endangered and/or have been kept as pets or in zoos, illegally smuggled, or injured on the road or by poachers. Even though it was only about a half-mile walk down the road from our hotel, it took us a little while to find. We were lucky enough to be the only ones on the guided tour we took. The first picture is of a peccary and the second is of some sort of hawk/eagle (I suck at identifying things) that had lost the muscle strength to fly because of long years spent in a cage at a zoo. The third picture is of a margay cat who’s paw had been injured in a trap. I didn’t take that picture (our guide offered to go behind the barrier and take one for me), but it’s so adorable that I had to include it. Again, all these pictures had to be taken with the crappy point-and-shoot because of the rain. We also saw a ton of other cool animals, including toucans, owls, various other birds, capybara, capuchin monkeys, and tortoises. We also bought a ton of cool stuff at their gift shop.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 38 - Iguazú Falls

We woke up today to torrential rain. Yes, I realize this area is rainforesty and thus gets a lot of rain, but I was under the impression that it would rain almost every day, but just for an hour or so. It rained all day. Hard. With thunder and lightning. We decided to try to make the best of it and slogged our way around Iguazú Falls. Even in the shitty weather it was an amazing place. There are literally hundreds of waterfalls there and La Garganta del Diablo is the second-largest by volume in the world. Because of the weather, I only brought my point-and-shoot camera, and I'm glad I did, because it got repeatedly wet from the rain and the waterfall spray. The first image is of one of the smaller waterfalls (don't remember which) and the second is of the Devil's Throat (I would have needed a much wider-angled lens to capture all of it—it's something like 450 feet across).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 37 - The Day of Epic Fail

Today we flew to Puerto Iguazú, located in northwestern Argentina on the border with Brazil and Paraguay. We relaxed a bit at our hotel (which had some really awesome jungle ambiance), but ended up having to embark on an epic quest into town because the hotel couldn't break a 100-peso note (the equivalent of about $25) and we needed the smaller bills for tips and bus fare. It was an unduly complicated task, but we managed. In the evening we headed over to Iguazú National Park for the Full Moon Tour. This was the only activity I'd pre-planned and I was super, super excited about it. For the five nights surrounding the full moon, they open up the park at night to a small number of visitors and you can see the biggest waterfall—La Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat)—under the light of the full moon. Even though it was overcast, it was a really spectacular site. Unfortunately, my camera decided to have a major malfunction and I wasn't able to take any pictures. Although I managed to fix the camera, I didn't manage to do it before we had to head back. I hadn't really taken any other pictures that day, so I had to use one of Nick sitting in the hammock we had on our hotel room's back porch.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 36 - More Dead People and the Casa Rosada

I realized that I hadn't taken very many pictures while in Recoleta, so we headed back over and wandered around some more. This first shot gives a good idea of what the place looks like, although the colors are a bit washed out. We then walked around the neighborhood a bit before catching a taxi to the Plaza de Mayo, the main square in Buenos Aires. The second picture is of the Casa Rosada (the equivalent of the White House) with a statue of nationalist hero José de San Martín in front. The square also features the national cathedral (with San Martín's remains), the somewhat gaudy National Bank building, the cabildo (the seat of the viceroyal government during the 1800s), and a huge monument dedicated to the May 25, 1810, revolution against Spanish rule. We then walked back through San Telmo and got some awesome pizza for dinner.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 35 - Dead People and Tango!

Today we looked around the San Telmo antiques street fair before heading over to Recoleta Cemetery. This is a really well-known cemetery with lots of famous dead people (including Evita) and is made up entirely of above-ground mausoleums. It was fun wandering around looking at all the ornate vaults, although a few of them included partially open coffins from which you could actually smell the rotten-cheese stink of decomposing bodies. No me gusta. The first picture (at Nick's request) is a shot of one of the cemetery's feral cats licking water from a pipe after we accidentally startled it from a nap. We did some more shopping at an artisan street fair right outside the cemetery and then embarked on an epic quest to find an ATM machine that would work with our cards. That night we went to a fun tango performance (pictures were hard to get because of how fast the dancers were moving).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 34 - They Don't Make Playgrounds Like This Anymore

By mid-morning the rain had finally stopped, but we only had a few hours before our ferry for Buenos Aires. Since we'd already seen the main sights of the tiny town and didn't feel like shopping, we just wandered around. We found some interesting stuff—a well-done graffiti portrait of Mr. T., a car parked outside an aquarium with a giant stuffed fish inside, and an awesome playground. This is one of those hardcore old-school playgrounds with toys that kids can actually hurt themselves on. They had some 55-gallon drum swings that Nick got on, and a maze. A freaking maze! Covered in hippie/stoner graffiti and littered with broken glass from beer bottles! I was pretty jealous of the kids who get to play in this splinter- and tetanus-ridden wonderland.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 33 - Fuck You, Rain!

Normally I love the rain (especially when it's accompanied by thunder and lightning), but not when I'm on vacation and when I haven't really packed for it. It rained heavily throughout the night and most of the morning. I didn't think we were going to be able to go out at all, so I practiced taking pictures of the rain falling on some plants outside our window. It slackened a bit during the middle of the day, so we ventured out to get food and to climb the lighthouse and check out the basilica. By mid-afternoon the weather was back to Doom Storm mode. I got a lot of reading done though.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 32 - Off to Colonia del Sacramento

Today we took a two-hour bus ride from Montevideo to the small town of Colonia del Sacramento, which is across the estuary from Buenos Aires. I was really looking forward to this place (it's well known for its quaint cobblestone streets, good restaurants, and shopping), but within an hour or so of us arriving it began to pour. Not rain—pour. Luckily I managed to snap a few photos before the rain hit. This is the old lighthouse and some of the original city walls.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 31 - The Final Day in Montevideo

Today was our last day in Montevideo and the first day it was actually sunny (we got continually screwed by the weather on this trip). The main event for today was a city tour (yeah, not really sure why we did that the last day, as opposed to the first...). We saw some of the places we'd already walked to, but the tour also took us out to some areas we wouldn't have been able to reach on foot, including the upscale Prado and Pocitos neighborhoods, the huge soccer stadium, some nice parks, and the Parliament building). Today's first picture is of a building facing Plaza Independencia. It apparently used to be a hotel with a lighthouse at the top, but now it's an apartment building with a cell tower on top. The second picture is of a dog that would come out on the roof of the building across from our hotel room and bark at the people and cars going by. It was pretty freaking adorable.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 30 - The Best Meal Ever

Feeling much better after our Epic Sleep, we got up this morning and walked all around the central portion of Montevideo. We strolled along La Rambla (the beachwalk that runs along the Rio de la Plata—the widest river in the world and what we mistook for the ocean for a few days) down to the port and then up through Ciudad Vieja and the Centro neighborhoods.

Today was the day of great food. For breakfast we found a hole-in-the-wall bakery and bought dulce de leche and ham and cheese empenadas. For lunch we stopped at a wine and tapas bar named Corchos, where we got to sample some amazing Uruguayan wines. And for dinner (based on the recommendation of the woman at Corchos), we ate at a mom-and-pop restaurant called Dueto, where I had what was definitely one of the best meals of my life. Nick and I shared a succulent rack of lamb with cubed cinnamon sweet potatoes, a chocolate mousse with orange sauce, an apple crumble with homemade ice cream, and a bottle of wine. All of that for only about $40. It was some of the best service I've ever had as well—the waiter was extremely attentive without ever being obtrusive. I ended up having to use my crappy camera to take a picture of the lamb, and it's definitely not the best food picture I've ever taken, but people must see the deliciousness.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 29 - José Gervasio Artigas

We arrived in Montevideo around 10:30 a.m. I had dozed a bit on the plane, but Nick couldn't sleep at all. Once we checked into our hotel, we walked a few blocks to Ciudad Vieja (the old city) in search of food. I had some giant ham and cheese crepes at a place we later decided was the Uruguayan equivalent of a Denny's. In the course of our wanderings, we walked through Plaza Independencia, the main square of the city. There was a huge statue of José Gervasio Artigas, the national hero of Uruguay. The pictures all came out kind of blah because it was so overcast and dreary, so I just made this one into a black and white. Once we got back to our hotel we slept for literally 14 hours straight. No joke.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 28 - Leaving on a Jet Plane (But Not This One)

The day began at 5:00 a.m. After showers, my cousin drove us to LAX for our first (4.5-hour) flight. Although we had a 6.5-hour layover in Miami, Nick didn't want to leave the airport, so I didn't get to take a pretty South Beach sunset shot like I'd hoped. With some very lucky timing, however, I snapped this picture of a plane taking off. I'm honestly not sure if the dark spots are the exhaust from the jet fuel or just smudges on the window I was shooting thorugh. Let's pretend it's the former. At 11:00 p.m. we boarded our overnight (9.5-hour) flight to Montevideo, Uruguay.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 27 - Puppers!

October 16: Nick and I are back from our two-week vacation to Uruguay and Argentina, so now begins the long and arduous task of dealing with the photo backlog (while at the same time continuing to take my daily photo). I'm going to pre-date all these entries and refer to them as "today" so as not to make things inordinately confusing.

Our epic journey to South America began today with an hour-and-a-half drive down to Valencia to spend the night with my cousin and his family. Their Australian shepherd Francesca is adorable, but surprisingly hard to photograph. I should have taken a shot of the feast my cousin cooked for us—two types of halibut, chicken, pork, bacon-jalapeño mashed potatoes, salad, steamed spinach, and the best cauliflower I've ever had. But I was too busy scarfing it down to whip out my camera.